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About Egon Riss

portrait of Egon Riss

Egon Riss was born in Austria in 1901. He was of Jewish descent. He was educated in Vienna and completed his studies at the Weiner Technische Hochschule (the Vienna Institute of Technology and Science) in 1923, but at some point in his early career studied at the Bauhaus in Weimar where he became acquainted with Oskar Kokoschka and Paul Klee. He quickly established a reputation by winning a competition for a clinic and health insurance office, followed by a number of other public buildings and private houses of advanced design. He also designed structures in the Silesian coalfields and the Tuberculosis Sanatorium at Lainz, completed 1931.
Riss worked as an architect in Vienna in partnership with Fritz Judtmann until 1938, when he emigrated to England. Here he lived in the Lawn Road Flats and in partnership with Jack Pritchard designed a range of pieces for Isokon.
He is perhaps best known for the Penguin Donkey, the small bookcase he designed for Isokon that has become a genuine icon of modern design.